Trigeminal Neuralgia: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Reviewed by Dr Hasan Feroz, M.D.,

Overview

Trigeminal neuralgia is a condition where the nerves of the affected. This nerves is known as trigeminal nerve. These nerve are found in both side of face and carries sensation from the brain to the face. Each nerve has three branches i.e. ophthalmic branch that controls the eyes, forehead and upper eyelid second one is a maxillary branch which is control the lower eyelid, cheek, nostril, upper lip, and upper gum and mandibular branch which affects the lower lip,lower jaw, lower gum and chewing muscle.

If you have trigeminal neuralgia, a small stimulation may trigger severe pain to the face e.g. during brushing or touching the face may trigger the pain.

In the initial phase, the pain starts mildly and gradually increases its intensity as the disease getting older to a patient and eventually the pain starts very excruciating and searing. The treatment of trigeminal neuralgia is available and it can be managed with medications, injections and surgery.

Symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia

The symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia include:

Severe pain in the affected area

Episodes of attacks may last till weeks, months.

Pain like an electric shock when touching or brushing or washing the face.

Pain that becomes more intense by the passage of time.

A brief period of burning or shooting pain.

Diagnosis of Trigeminal Neuralgia

Diagnosis of the trigeminal neuralgia depends based on the patient history types of pain he has been facing and the location of the pain.
Your doctor will do your neurological examination that includes touching the pain site and the response from the patient. What kind of pain occurring what are the nerves involved in pain like all the three nerves involves.
your doctor may prescribe MRI scan of the head to get the exact diagnosis. MRI scan will also rule out if there is no tumours or multiple sclerosis.
There may be multiple causes for pain so it is necessary to diagnose correctly to cure the disease.

When Pain Triggers

Any of the following acts may trigger the pain of trigeminal neuralgia

Brushing the teeth

Washing the Face

During Makeups

Eating or drinking especially cold drinks

Blowing the Nose

Talking

Smiling/Laughing

Causes of Trigeminal Neuralgia

In TN the nerve’s function affected by the vein or arteries in the brain which affects the TN nerve and it start paining. This happens when arteries or veins in the brain comes in contact (pressuring the trigeminal nerves or disturbing the trigeminal nerves) with TN nerve the problem is start.

Other causes are it occurs due to multiple sclerosis where the myelin sheath which protects the nerve from damage. In some cases, it is found that when peoples attain the age of 50 after that TN attacks. it is clear that it is due to aging process.

Other reasons are when tumors or any veins press the trigeminal nerve then neuralgia occurs. it may also be due to stroke, injury, surgery etc.

Treatment of Trigeminal Neuralgia

For the treatment of TN your doctor may prescribe the medications that reduce the pain. These medications are:

Anticonvulsants– Your doctor may prescribe carbamazepine drugs which is effective against trigeminal neuralgia pain. your doctor may also prescribe gabapentin, nortryptillin, clonazepam etc to reduce the pain.

Antispasmodic Medicines- In TN your doctor may prescribe antispasmodic medicines like baclofen, dicyclomine hydrochloride to reduce the pain and relax the muscles.

Surgery- There are various types of procedures available to treat the patient with surgery like gamma knife surgery, glycerol injections, steriotactic surgery etc but the most common surgery and effective is gamma knife surgery where the trigeminal nerve destroyed with radiation. It is the most effective and efficient way to get the patient away from pain.

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